Companies

Telkom risks loss of 60pc users in SIM cards switch-off

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A subscriber holds a Telkom SIM card. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Telkom Kenya could lose up to 60 percent of its subscriber base when it deactivates unregistered SIM cards on Saturday midnight, compounding the loss of customers it has witnessed in recent years.

The telco, Kenya’s third-biggest telecommunications company by users, revealed Friday that only 40 percent of its users have complied with the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) registration directive ahead of the October 15 deadline.

Its rivals - Safaricom and Airtel - have been gaining subscribers and reported 91 percent and 78 percent SIM card registration compliance, respectively, during the Friday webinar hosted by CA.

CA in March issued a directive to telecoms to carry out fresh registration of all their mobile telephone subscribers, including those already registered. The regulator extended the deadline to October 15 to allow the firms to conduct a clean-up of its subscriber lines as the State moves to consolidate efforts to enhance data security.

CA says telcos will be required to deactivate subscribers who will not have updated their records.

“SIM registration is a continuous process. After the October 15 deadline, subscribers whose lines will have been deactivated will still have an opportunity to re-register,” said Liston Kirui, CA’s assistant director of telecoms licensing and compliance.

Telkom was recently bought back by the government from UK-based private equity fund Helios Investment Partners in a rare return of a privatised company to State ownership.

Read: State fully acquires Telkom Kenya in Sh6.09 billion deal

The operator’s mobile phone subscribers dropped from 4.23 million users in 2019 to 3.42 million in June, representing a 19.1 percent fall in a period when its rivals have gained customers.